What're You Reading? (September 2023)

Whether you’re lounging on the couch, sitting up at a computer chair, relaxing on a park bench, or just killing time til your stop on public transport, reading can be anything from a method to pass the time, to a way to learn something new, to an introduction to entirely new worlds.

With that in mind:

Hey folks, whatcha reading?

This is a thread to share whatever you happen to be reading at the moment, whether that’s an epic-length book, the latest comics, a long-form piece of investigative journalism, a cohost post linked on Critical Distance, a historical audiobook, or even just a short, sweet article on something you just find interesting.

Please keep the following in mind while posting:

  • If linking to or discussing a news article which might have triggering content, please use appropriate warnings. Pay the same mind to content in books.
  • Avoid linking to articles and books purely to provoke an inflammatory response. You can disagree with something you have read, but please avoid ‘hate-baiting’.
  • If a book or article generates a suitably large discussion, you’re absolutely encouraged to make a separate topic for it. We welcome the creation of new threads on this forum!

The Cairo Trilogy

i saw it on a list somewhere, reserved it at the library, and then found out it’s 1300 pages.

currently (nice)% finished, hoping to wrap it up before needing to renew it a fourth time.

(bookwyrm & storygraph, for those keeping score)

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Read Star Wars: Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade (not a fan of the nested subtitles but) today on my train ride. It’s the story of Iskat Akaris, a (species redacted) Jedi Padawan who is basically half-Sith for her whole life and winds up joining the Inquisitorius willingly. There are some interesting tidbits in there for AMCA listeners (how Anakin was Knighted, lots of completely obliterating Jedi philosophy) but it was also kinda nice to just read some Star Wars again. Delilah Dawson is low-key a really great Star Wars-ist and I would read more from her.

Read The Raw Shark Tapes because somebody told me it was similar to House of Leaves but this one has sharks. I actually don’t know how well the comparison holds up other than both books use a lot of complex page structures to tell their stories and they’re both very metafictional. Really though Shark Tapes feels more like John Dies at the End, a book I do enjoy, but is far more limited in its fictional capabilities, where House of Leaves is one of my favorite books ever.

Ones a B-movie, one is a masterpiece, you know?

This book does have cool parts. I love Jaws, the author agrees with me, so the whole ending is a Jaws pastiche. The overall idea is about an amnesiac man waking up and getting hunted by a shark made out of discourse, its text come to life to devour him. I like that even if the book doesn’t do much with it as social commentary. The worst part though is the “love story” stuff which all read to me like a straight young guy’s ideal relationship, I’m not convinced this is real, sorry, that kinda kills the book.

I do like the kitty.


Making my way through Skeleton Crew, my first sojourn through a King short story collection. Some random thoughts on notable stories below:

The Mist - genuinely floored by the efficiency with which King sets up the social dynamics of an apocalyptic scenario. This man has clearly gone to a lot of town hall meetings.

The Monkey - one of The things to remember about Stephen King is that he is capable of astounding feats of unintentional racism.

The Jaunt - if they ever make another Cabinet of Curiosities season, this needs to be on the roster. Shades of Prey (2017) all over this.

The Wedding Gig - King hates fat people. I don’t understand the point of this story other than what if a gang war happened because an Irish woman was fat?

Survivor Type - Only somebody with a jet black sense of humour and zero financial constraints could get this shit published in 1984. I’m in awe.


Finished Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife, and its just collapse porn. Its a very mean-spirited dystopia about an even dryer Southwest US, and just about every character in the book is a comical narcissist, just Hobbesian bullshit to its core. For the most part it plays out like an interesting political/crime thriller, but it totally fails as near-future SF.

Also, I know it can be frustrating when authors tidy up their endings too much, but its also deeply frustrating when authors just end their books without any meaningful attempt at a conclusion. I don’t need to have everything explained, but as an example, this book just ends at a climactic point where the effects of the deeply selfish actions of the characters should be shown. Nah, we’ll just end it without dealing with the larger political and philosophical questions the story gestures at. Can you tell that I was really unsatisfied by the ending? Its just kind of tired and tropey and too mean-spirited to really be more than just another forgettable collapse porn novel.

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I tried to read this once and gave up because of its bleakness. There’s not much world-building, like in Wind-Up Girl which has robots and elephants and clipper ships and stuff. It’s just… unpleasant.

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